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Oreste Reale and Paul Dirmeyer

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This is the first of a two-part article that investigates the impact of land surface evaporation variability on the interannual variability of precipitation and compares it with the impact caused by sea surface temperature variability. Previous works by Koster and Suarez and Koster et al. provide the general strategy to control oceanic and land surface evaporation. For this part of the study, their numerical experiments are repeated using the Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies (COLA) general circulation model. However, emphasis is put on the dynamics of the response, including a discussion of the changes in the mean climate; in particular, it is observed that the suppressed land evaporation variability changes the mean Northern Hemisphere storm track and the mean position of the intertropical convergence zone, which in turn affect the mean precipitation.

The analysis of the precipitation variance reveals a general agreement with previous works for the midlatitudes, whereas in the Tropics a stronger land-induced signal is detected. Furthermore, important regional differences in the response are found. Specifically, there is a predominant land signal over the Amazon region, in contrast to an equivalence between the land and ocean forcings over the Congo basin region. Finally, the model appears to be slightly more sensitive to seasonal–interannual variations of the land forcing than is the one adopted by Koster et al.

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Oreste Reale and Robert Atlas

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In this article two subsynoptic-scale cyclones that developed between 3 and 10 October 1996 over the western-central Mediterranean, causing floods, strong winds, and severe damage, are analyzed. Surface observations reveal that the accumulated rainfall at Santuario di Polsi (southern Calabria, Italy) is more than 480 mm for the first event (cyclone 9610A). The second cyclone (9610B) was characterized by a storm track predominantly over the sea, thus causing less recorded precipitation, but stronger wind. Satellite imagery shows two intensely convective vortices with a scale of 200–400 km and a spiral structure, with the cyclone 9610B displaying a well-defined eyelike feature.

The corresponding National Centers for Environmental Prediction analyses, although limited by 1° resolution, confirm the cyclones’ positions and intensities, as they can be inferred from satellite imagery, SSM/I data, and observations, but display also the “signature” of two tropical cyclone–like vortices, including a perfect alignment between the cutoffs at all levels with the surface center, and a warm core. The wind speed cross sections in the meridional and zonal directions through the eyelike feature reveal a virtually motionless column of air. A comparison with the cross sections taken in the same analyses across a named tropical storm in the Atlantic show a strong analogy between the gridded representation of these events.

Other remarkable features include very strong horizontal shear in the midtroposphere, and simultaneous lack of vertical shear; increasing low-level vorticity at the expenses of upper-level vorticity; creation of a low-level vorticity maximum; and finally strong low-level convergence and upper-level divergence during the onset and development of each cyclone.

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Oreste Reale and William K. Lau
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Barbara Turato, Oreste Reale, and Franco Siccardi

Abstract

Very intense mesoscale or synoptic-scale rainfall events can occasionally be observed in the Mediterranean region without any deep cyclone developing over the areas affected by precipitation. In these perplexing cases the synoptic situation can superficially look similar to cases in which very little precipitation occurs. An example is the major precipitation and flooding event that affected Piedmont, Italy, between 13 and 16 October 2000. The emphasis of this study is on the moisture origin and transport. Moisture balances are computed on different space and time scales, revealing that precipitation exceeds evaporation over an area inclusive of Piedmont and the northwestern Mediterranean region, on a time scale encompassing the event and about 2 weeks preceding it. This is suggestive of an important moisture contribution originating from outside the region. A synoptic and dynamic analysis is then performed to outline the potential mechanisms that could have contributed to the large-scale moisture transport.

The central part of the work uses a quasi-isentropic water vapor back-trajectory technique. The moisture sources obtained by this technique are compared with the results of the balances and with the synoptic situation to unveil possible dynamic mechanisms and physical processes involved.

It is found that moisture sources on a variety of atmospheric scales contribute to this event. First, an important contribution is caused by the extratropical remnants of former Tropical Storm Leslie. The large-scale environment related to this system allows a significant amount of moisture to be carried toward Europe. This happens on a time scale of about 5–15 days preceding the Piedmont event. Second, water vapor intrusions from the African intertropical convergence zone and evaporation from the eastern Atlantic contribute on the 2–5-day time scale. The large-scale moist dynamics appears therefore to be one important factor enabling a moderate Mediterranean cyclone to produce heavy precipitation. Finally, local evaporation from the Mediterranean, water vapor recycling, and orographically induced low-level convergence enhance and concentrate the moisture over the area where heavy precipitation occurs. This happens on a 12–72-h time scale.

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Oreste Reale, Paul Dirmeyer, and Adam Schlosser

Abstract

This is the second of a two-part article investigating the impact of variations of land surface evaporability on the interannual variability of precipitation. The first goal of this part is to analyze the relationship between the atmospheric internal variability and the evaporative forcings. The hypothesis that the sum of ocean- and atmosphere-induced variabilities can be linearly amplified by the land variability is critically revisited and generally found not applicable to the climate model used and the numerical experiments conducted. A set of parameters to evaluate the departure from the linear behavior is defined, quantifying the impact of the different forcings over the total variability. Some areas of the world (e.g., the monsoon region, the continental United States, and southeastern Africa), where the impact of internal atmospheric dynamics on precipitation variability is small compared to the impact of the evaporative forcings, are localized. Over these areas, the variability of precipitation might be more predictable, given a good knowledge of the surface boundary forcings.

In the second half of this article the time structure of the land forcing is analyzed, to quantify the contributions of the interannual variations, diurnal cycle, and high-frequency (i.e., synoptic scale) variations and compare them with the contribution of the oceanic forcing. The general conclusion is that interannual variability of both sea surface temperature and land evaporability is very important to the overall variability of precipitation over the Tropics. Over land in the subtropics and midlatitudes equatorward of the polar front there are also substantial feedbacks at the interannual scale. The impact of synoptic-scale variations of land evaporability is generally smaller, except for some areas in the midlatitudes near the polar front, particularly continental Eurasia and parts of North America. Finally, there is no general, widespread evidence showing the importance of the diurnal cycle of evaporability to the interannual variability of precipitation. However, strong regional differences are detected, and some tropical areas, like the Congo basin, where the diurnal cycle does contribute to the interannual variability of precipitation are outlined.

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Oreste Reale, K. M. Lau, and Arlindo da Silva
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Man-Li C. Wu, Oreste Reale, and Siegfried D. Schubert

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This study shows that the African easterly wave (AEW) activity over the African monsoon region and the northern tropical Atlantic can be divided in two distinct temporal bands with time scales of 2.5–6 and 6–9 days. The results are based on a two-dimensional ensemble empirical mode decomposition (2D-EEMD) of the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA). The novel result of this investigation is that the 6–9-day waves appear to be located predominantly to the north of the African easterly jet (AEJ), originate at the jet level, and are different in scale and structure from the well-known low-level 2.5–6-day waves that develop baroclinically on the poleward flank of the AEJ. Moreover, they appear to interact with midlatitude eastward-propagating disturbances, with the strongest interaction taking place at the latitudes where the core of the Atlantic high pressure system is located. Composite analyses applied to the mode decomposition indicate that the interaction of the 6–9-day waves with midlatitude systems is characterized by enhanced southerly (northerly) flow from (toward) the tropics. This finding agrees with independent studies focused on European floods, which have noted enhanced moist transport from the ITCZ toward the Mediterranean region on time scales of about a week as important precursors of extreme precipitation.

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Arthur Y. Hou, Sara Q. Zhang, and Oreste Reale

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This study describes a 1D variational continuous assimilation (VCA) algorithm for assimilating tropical rainfall data using moisture/temperature time-tendency corrections as the control variable to offset model deficiencies. For rainfall assimilation, model errors are of special concern since model-predicted precipitation is based on parameterized moist physics, which can have substantial systematic errors. The authors examine whether a VCA scheme using the forecast model as a weak constraint offers an effective pathway to precipitation assimilation.

The particular scheme investigated employs a precipitation observation operator based on a 6-h integration of a column model of moist physics from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) global data assimilation system (DAS). In earlier studies, a simplified version of this scheme was tested, and improved monthly mean analyses and better short-range forecast skills were obtained. This paper describes the full implementation of the 1DVCA scheme using background and observation error statistics and examines its impact on GEOS analyses and forecasts of prominent tropical weather systems such as hurricanes.

Assimilation experiments with and without rainfall data for Hurricanes Bonnie and Floyd show that assimilating 6-h Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) and Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) surface rain accumulations leads to more realistic analyzed storm features and better 5-day storm track prediction and precipitation forecasts. These results demonstrate the importance of addressing model deficiencies in moisture time tendency in order to make effective use of precipitation information in data assimilation.

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Oreste Reale, K. M. Lau, and Arlindo da Silva

Abstract

The real-time treatment of interactive, realistically varying aerosols in a global operational forecasting system, as opposed to prescribed (fixed or climatologically varying) aerosols, is a very difficult challenge that has only recently begun to be addressed. Experiment results from a recent version of the NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-5) forecasting system, inclusive of interactive-aerosol direct effects, are presented in this work. Five sets of 30 five-day forecasts are initialized from a high quality set of analyses previously produced and documented, to cover the period from 15 August to 16 September 2006, which corresponds to the NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (NAMMA) observing campaign. Four forecast sets are at two different horizontal resolutions, with and without interactive-aerosol treatment. A fifth forecast set is performed with climatologically varying aerosols. The net impact of the interactive aerosol, associated with a strong Saharan dust outbreak, is a temperature increase at the dust level, and a decrease in the near-surface levels, in agreement with previous observational and modeling studies. Moreover, forecasts in which interactive aerosols are included depict an African easterly jet (AEJ) at slightly higher elevation, and slightly displaced northward, with respect to the forecasts in which aerosols are not included. The shift in the AEJ position goes in the direction of the observations and agrees with previous results.

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Oreste Reale, William K. Lau, Kyu-Myong Kim, and Eugenia Brin

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This article investigates the role of the Saharan air layer (SAL) in tropical cyclogenetic processes associated with a nondeveloping and a developing African easterly wave observed during the Special Observation Period (SOP-3) phase of the 2006 NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (NAMMA). The two waves are chosen because they both interact heavily with Saharan air. A global data assimilation and forecast system, the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5), is being run to produce a set of high-quality global analyses, inclusive of all observations used operationally but with additional satellite information. In particular, following previous works by the same authors, the quality-controlled data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) used to produce these analyses have a better coverage than the one adopted by operational centers. From these improved analyses, two sets of 31 five-day high-resolution forecasts, at horizontal resolutions of both half and quarter degrees, are produced. Results indicate that very steep moisture gradients are associated with the SAL in forecasts and analyses, even at great distances from their source over the Sahara. In addition, a thermal dipole in the vertical (warm above, cool below) is present in the nondeveloping case. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites shows that aerosol optical thickness, indicative of more dust as opposed to other factors, is higher in the nondeveloping case. Altogether, results suggest that the radiative effect of dust may play some role in producing a thermal structure less favorable to cyclogenesis. Results also indicate that only global horizontal resolutions on the order of 20–30 km can capture the large-scale transport and the fine thermal structure of the SAL, inclusive of the sharp moisture gradients, reproducing the effect of tropical cyclone suppression that has been hypothesized by previous authors from observational and regional modeling perspectives. These effects cannot be fully represented at lower resolutions, therefore global resolution of a quarter of a degree is a minimum critical threshold necessary to investigate Atlantic tropical cyclogenesis from a global modeling perspective.

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